SEOUL, South Korea—Among the full-house audience of Divine Performing Arts (DPA) 2009 World Tour at Universal Arts Center in Seoul on February 8 was Ji-Won Yun, a fashion professor at the Seoul National University.
The opening scene The Five Millenia Begin left the deepest impression on Ms. Yun, particularly the moment when the 5,000 years of Chinese history was launched by the Yellow Emperor, who descended from heaven.
“I told my kid that today I saw a show that manifests Heaven to the secular world,” she said. “Last year when I watched DPA, I said to myself, ‘Ah, there’s such show existing.’ This time when I watched it, my heart was very calm. Last year there were more programs from the Tang Dynasty and this year they went back in time to the Han Dynasty. In this show I found traditonal culture. When I saw ethnic dances of Yi, Tibetans, and dances of various ethnicities, I felt that it was the Chinese culture. They even integrated poetry into the performance and harmonized Confucianist, Buddhist, and Taoist cultures together as one. It manifested a comprehensive culture.
“Since the Han Dynasty, dancers were not merely practicing techniques, they were cultivating. From eating, living to walking postures, everything was cultivation. I could see that also from the performance today. Nothing was simply practice, everything was cultivation.”
Ms. Yun was also moved by another program, Heaven Awaits Us Despite Persecution, based on a true story where a father is persecuted to death for his belief in Falun Gong in mainland China.
“A cultivator’s determination in his belief eventually trascends all darkness and welcomes brightness. A life was elevated. I was touched to tears.
“I want to teach my kid to know how to cultivate the heart; have hope in your heart; do not hold prejudice towards others; accept and open your hearts to others; you cannot attack other people, but have tolerance.”
Ms. Yun currently has a contract with Korea’s MBC television station to design costumes for an upcoming 50-episode drama, Queen Seondeok of Silla.
“Although MBC provided me with some suggested designs, many of them are very identical … Many aspects of [DPA costumes] can be inspiration for my designs, including styles, textures of materials and overall shapes, etc.
“Even though I always design and make costumes, I have never worn one myself. I made many samples for the drama, but I let the new designers try them on. I wish I could try them on actually, particularly the ones that are beautiful, with wide sleeves and easy to move around with.
“Costumes with sleeves that are wide and broad are the style of heavenly beings. Anyways, wide sleeves look very elegant; they leave a floating impression. [Those kind of costumes] belong to the fairies who I often have imagined as a child.”
Ms. Yun felt that the reason DPA is so renowned around the world is because it resonants between people of all backgrounds.
“Chinese culture lasted for a very long time; it’s the center of civilizations. Western ballet emphasizes on limited techniques, yet classical Chinese dance has various movements. Taoism says that people can cultivate to gods and also can come back to life. It lets people cultivate their characters—quietly improving in their secular lives—and solve their lives’ fundamental issues.
“I think traditional culture is not boring and old-fashioned like people say nowadays, DPA’s performance is fascinating. It tells stories through dance and combines history with modern days. It blends Western culture with the East, so people can all understand.”
She said that through the performance, people can rediscover many values that are vanishing today.
“[After you watch the show] you no longer emphasise selfishly on yourself, but to harmonize with the ethnicity, with the society. You should treat neighbors and friends with kindness rather than with stubbornness. You can maybe try to stand in others’ shoes.”